Jennifer Wustenhoff Lees, daughter of Det. Dennis Wustenhoff, announced on Wednesday an increased reward of $100,000 — from $65,000 — for information leading to the arrest of her father's killer. Wustenhoff was killed by a car bomb in 1990. Credit: Danielle Silverman

The two daughters of a Suffolk County police officer killed by a car bomb 33 years ago in North Patchogue announced a $100,000 reward Wednesday — an amount they hope churns up new information and the arrest of their father's killer.

The reward adds to $65,000 already offered in the case of Det. Dennis Wustenhoff. His daughters, Jennifer Wustenhoff-Lees and Melissa Scelsi, announced the reward at a news conference in front of Suffolk County police headquarters in Yaphank.

“We hope that this new higher amount will not only draw attention to the fact that our family will never give up the search for justice for Dennis Wustenhoff," said Wustenhoff-Lees, 47, "but will also convince someone to come forward with that ever important linchpin piece of information to resolve this matter forever."

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said he was hopeful the increased reward will help "rejuvenate" the case.

"Thirty-three years is too long," he said Wednesday, the 33rd anniversary of Wustenhoff's death. “But we need the public’s help. Somebody has information that they can share with us, that can close this case forever."

It was just before noon on Feb. 15, 1990, when the bearded Dennis Wustenhoff walked out of his North Patchogue home and attempted to start a Cadillac Eldorado. A bomb exploded, tearing the car apart and shattering the windows of his house.

He died three hours later at Stony Brook Hospital.

Another police officer was identified as a suspect in the immediate aftermath of the killing — police sources told Newsday at the time that Wustenhoff had had an affair with the man's wife — but no charges were brought.

In February 2020, then-Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announced the FBI would review the cold case.

Harrison said Wednesday he could not comment directly on the investigation into the killing but the new reward helps.

“This is a good step," he added. "Raising it to $100,000, I’m optimistic that somebody is going to give us something that is going to really help us push forward with the case."

Wustenhoff-Lees said the added amount of the reward was provided by her mother, Fran. Other funds come from Crime Stoppers, police unions and private donors.

More than three decades has done little to dull the pain and help the family fully recover from the shocking daytime attack, she said.

The explosion "shook the neighborhood for miles, and our lives forever,” Wustenhoff-Lees said. “Feb. 15, 1990, started out as a cold and dreary morning, and in some ways our lives have felt that way ever since."

She said the family is frustrated police have not made an arrest more than three decades after what she called a "heinous and cowardly act.” She was 14 when her father died.

Scelsi was 10. Now 43, she said her last fond memory of him was a daddy-daughter dance at her elementary school on Valentine's Day. The next morning, the car bomb detonated.

"He took off [work] to spend the night with me. I felt very special," she said. "He was always the cool dad with the long hair and beard."

Harrison said Wustenhoff "was a great cop, did a lot of great work, and raised a great family."

People with information can contact Crime Stoppers at 800-220-8477. All tips are kept confidential.

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